Dear Labby | Does my Dog Love (or Hate) Massage?
Each evening I sit with my dog Kylie and give her a massage – I run my hands up and down her legs and her feet and do a little back massage too. Sometimes she moans and groans and it’s almost a growl…is she telling me she wants me to stop, or does she like it? How do I tell?
Most dog love massage, especially from their mom. But reading your dogs behavior is important, so it’s wise of you to be certain about her reaction. First, does she get up and move away from you or does she move TOWARDS you. If you take your hands away does she lean back into them? Those are clear signs that she is enjoying it.
Second, does she close her eyes and relax almost fall asleep? If so, then she’s not anxious, she’s enjoying it. Many dogs don’t like their feet or paws touched, so if she seems to pull them away, skip them and focus on her legs, shoulders, back – all the same places you would massage a human.
There are lots of different ways to massage your dog and I’ve provided some resources at the end of the article that offer examples. Certainly, bonding with your dog in this way is wonderful – it gives them a real sense of calm and relaxation – important at the end of the day for them as well as for you. And if your dog is a working dog or very active, they get sore muscles too, so massage and even icing can help ease any aches or pain. It’s even more important for our senior citizen dogs. Arthritis takes a toll and can create a lot of discomfort for your dog.
Dogs tend to have no sense of moderation, at least my dogs don’t, so a nice massage to loosen their joints and relax them is likely to be welcome. But if you are concerned about whether she is truly enjoying it, watch for those signs I mentioned.
UPDATE: A good tip from reader Kimberly from Keep the Tail Wagging, you can use the massage to check your dog over – look for lumps, bumps, sore spots, rashes, etc. It can be a good little medical check-up.
During our PetsMove.Org Expo in January, we had a number of videos that provided insight into proper stretching techniques for your dog.
Check the full agenda for additional sessions: Move Your Mutt 2014 Health and Fitness Expo
- The Tellington Touch: The touch that heals
- How To Massage Your Dog: Modern Dog
- How to Massage a Dog: WikiHow
- 6 Tips for Giving Your Dog a Massage